Tue, Jul 31, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Number of storms doubled by global warming: study

CHANGING PATTERNSAnalyzing three periods since 1900, researchers saw a strong connection between the rise in sea temperatures and storms

AFP , WASHINGTON

The effect of global warming on wind patterns and sea temperatures have more than doubled the annual number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean over the past century, a new study by US scientists showed.

Excerpts from the study by Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology were released in the US late on Sunday.

The analysis identified three periods since 1900, during which the average number of hurricanes and tropical storms surged dramatically and then remained elevated and relatively steady.

The first period, between 1900 and 1930, saw an average of six Atlantic tropical cyclones, of which four were hurricanes and two were tropical storms.

From 1930 to 1940, the annual average increased to 10, consisting of five hurricanes and five tropical storms.

During the most recent period, from 1995 to 2005, the average reached 15, of which eight were hurricanes and seven were tropical storms.

This latter period, Holland and Webster caution, has not yet stabilized, which means the average hurricane season may be more active in future.

"These numbers are a strong indication that climate change is a major factor in the increasing number of Atlantic hurricanes," Holland said in a statement.

The scientists see a strong correlation between the spike in storm activity and rising sea surface temperatures, which "feed" hurricanes.

Over the last 100 years, these temperatures have risen by 0.7? C, the study said.

The temperatures rose approximately 0.4?C, in a period leading up to 1930, which was marked by some of the deadliest storms to hit the Atlantic Coast of the US.

The so-called Galveston hurricane of 1900 that went down in history as the worst ever to hit the US, took an estimated 8,000 lives.

The second-worst storm that ravaged southeastern Florida and killed about 2,500 local residents occurred in 1928, data compiled by the National Hurricane Center showed.

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